The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to release the journalist Maurice Kayombo, who has been held for two weeks on charges of “blackmail and disparaging an official,” after the Secretary General of the Mining Ministry filed a complaint against him.
“We condemn this detention, which is being used to intimidate journalists doing investigative reports,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “We call on the Congolese authorities to release Maurice immediately and drop the criminal charges against him. This complaint should be heard by the media regulatory body, Haute autorité des médias (HAM).”
The charges against Kayombo were brought in relation to a story he wrote in the November edition of the privately-owned monthly magazine Les Grands Enjeux where he is on staff. In the article he wrote on a government report on the mining contracts in the country, he said there were huge mismanagement and officials were involved in some unsound contracts.
On January 9 Kayombo was invited to the office of the Secretary General of the Mining Ministry Christophe Kaninio and when he arrived there he was arrested by police, said the National Union of Professional of the Press (SNPP) of DRC.
Kayombo has been held in jail since then. He has been moved between detention centres and is now being held at the Central Prison of Makala in the capital city of Kinshasa. Some journalists who visited him fear for his health. He told them that he is being held in a tiny cell and is forced to sleep close to stagnant urine.
The IFJ is supporting the SNPP in its campaign for Kayombo’s release and a transfer of the complaint to the HAM. The IFJ’s African regional group, the Federation of African Journalists, has a continent-wide campaign to ban the criminalisation of press offenses in every African country.
For further information contact the IFJ: +221 33 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries